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Workshop brings 'One Health' concepts to international audience

A virtual workshop this week hosted by the University of Georgia will help connect students from around the world to the concept of “One Health”—an idea that takes on even more significance in the time of a global pandemic.

The Conservation Medicine, One Health and Wildlife Diseases virtual workshop, organized by faculty member Sonia Hernandez and students from across various departments, but led by those at the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, takes place Nov. 6-7 and features a roster of internationally renowned researchers, scientists and professionals who work in the world of One Health. The concept of One Health has existed for decades—it’s an understanding that animal and human health are linked to the larger environment that we share—and this event aims to showcase not only key ideas in this area, but also focus on potential career paths for students.

As a result, attendees can learn about hands-on approaches, such as investigating wildlife mortality cases or tracking diseases of major public health importance, such as Guinea worms or ticks, as well as lectures on ideas that connect wildlife to One Health, such as the health of our oceans, conservation programs and pathogen research. Launched in 2018, the biannual conference was forced online for 2020 but organizers say the timing—with the focus on one health—has its benefits.

“There is no more perfect time than this,” says Raquel Francisco, a master’s student at Warnell who helped organize the workshop. While the virtual format won’t allow for the hands-on, in-person demonstrations that were done in 2018, Francisco says the new format does offer some new advantages. “We’ve added on a social hour and a career panel to get participants the ability for more one-on-one interaction with the panelists.”

Professor Sonia Hernandez, who launched the first workshop in 2018, says another goal of the event is to introduce students to careers available in One Health. Often, students are interested in the concept but don’t know how it fits for a career. By featuring speakers from a range of areas—institutions, governments, nonprofits and more—students can get a clearer picture of where they may like to work in the future.

“A lot of students struggle to figure out what it means to have a career in One Health, so the purpose of this workshop is to put in front of the students a huge diversity of career opportunities so students can see, for example, a person practicing One Health within a particular job or institution or branch,” says Hernandez, who has a joint faculty appointment in the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine.

This year, the workshop takes on a more international tone, with speakers and attendees joining from across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas—including one lecture delivered in Spanish. In addition to the lectures, student organizers Francisco and Corinna Hazelrig, a senior wildlife sciences major at Warnell, have also planned special virtual events to allow attendees to interact directly with speakers. Hazelrig will also lead a virtual desk-yoga session and other fun activities, including trivia, raffles, and a wildlife photography contest, to help break up the day of videos.

Registration remains open through Thursday, Nov. 5. Participants may register for one day for $30 or two days for $50, which includes all extra events and activities. For details, visit bit.ly/OneHealthWorkshop2020.

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